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Subject Variety is the spice of life but is it so in HRD? A discussion on the convenience of defining the discipline
Rosalía Cascón-Pereira & Mireia Valverde, Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Spain
Outline The objective of this paper is to question whether it is really necessary (and for whom) to arrive at a shared definition of HRD. In order to reach this objective, the authors of this paper review the contributions made to HRD by authors coming from different perspectives. The perspectives are classified in this paper under the general headings of orthodox vs. unorthodox, and individual/ organisational/ societal level in order to have a criterion to operationalise the discussion. For each perspective, the authors consider the contributions made to HRD by the perspective in question, and then assess whether or not they can be considered as models within the discipline or simply as issues, topics or focuses of research of HRD. 
    The discussion section of this paper summarises the contents reviewed in the previous sections trying to make sense of the state of the discipline, with particular emphasis on the provision of definitions. This summary serves as the basis to discuss the following considerations:
  • Is it too early in the discipline's development to try to confine all its possible practice and research into a very static and somehow narrow definition?
  • Could such definitions act as an inhibitor for the natural future development of the young HRD?
  • Is it in the specific interest of any agent (academics and practitioners) to avail of such definition?
  • Bestwoing HRD with a definition would provide it with further internal consistency, yet would it devoid it from external validity?
Source Paper presented at the 5th conference on human resource development research and practice across Europe: International, comparative and cross-cultural dimensions of HRD. University of Limerick, 27-28 May 2004 (Abstract; full paper incl. in CD-ROM).
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